Skip to main content

The Mystery of the Missing Atoms

question-markLet’s see if you can see what I see. It’s kind of a mystery.
This is from the New York Times
But with the shrinking of the industry, coal interests “are losing their clout, and they’re not going to get it back,” Mr. Goodell said. “It’s becoming clear where the future is going. The politically smart thing is to jump on the renewables bandwagon.”
Goodell is Jeff Goodell, author of the 2006 book “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future.”
Let’s try another one. Same thing as above, this time from the Hill.
We’re thrilled about any opportunity to replace coal directly with renewable energy, because the whole idea of natural gas as a bridge fuel has become debunked as we get more and more understanding of how bad natural gas is, and how ready to go renewable energy is,” said Julian Boggs, the global warming outreach director for Environment America. “Deploying as much renewable energy as possible is essential to solving global warming. Natural gas can’t solve global warming.”
These are both about the Clean Power Plan. We’ll let the coal and renewable folks take care of themselves. It’s just that this death of coal/birth of renewables meme seems much too binary, with Mr. Boggs having no trouble throwing natural gas onto the island of misfit energy types.
But can you replace base load energy – and a lot of it – with intermittent renewable energy? And is natural gas the only conceivable solution? Could there be – something else?

What could that be? – and emission free – and base load energy, to boot. Hydro, maybe? That’s pretty tapped out – you could call it peak water, but really, it’s the environmental hurtles of building new dams that make a difference. Surely this complex tangle of a mystery requires superb sleuthing abilities to resolve.

Let’s try one more story, this one from Bloomberg, to see if this crime against electricity can be solved.
The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there's no going back.

Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.
The story has a correction that points out that EIA projections are based on different scenarios which may or may not prove out. They’re really not meant to prove out. It’s a government agency looking at possibilities, not the Amazing Kreskin.

Still, Bloomberg sees what the Clean Power Plan means to do, it recognizes that solar has great potential but no market share yet – and misses the obvious player in the energy market. Hercule Poirot would be slapping his forehead.

We get that reporters cannot be expected to know everything and sometimes give too much time to interested parties as interview subjects, but come on, ink slingers, try a little harder.

Comments

Kevin Krause said…
I love this post. However, since I work with both nuclear and hydro I would say it is slightly disingenuous to hydro. The DOE says that only 3% of dams generate electricity. The real growth area for hydro will be powering existing dams. Granted they will medium sized at the largest and most will be small, but to say hydro is tapped out, does not really cut it either.

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…